Up there in Hymettus
"Up there in Hymettus there's a secret ...", a song by Manos Hadjidakis used to say. And it is true! There is a secret, impenetrable, yet mysteriously enchanting, a secret of centuries that fills man with awe, as on this mountain the footprints of man can be seen, from his first appearance up to our days... Hymettus is an important component of Attica's greenfield, along with the other mountains that together form the circular plain. It takes up an area of 81.230 acres, of the whole 436.500 acres of the basin's greenfield. It begins from the point "Stavros" (N) and reaches up to cape "Poundes", in Vouliagmeni (S). Hymettus is particularly elongated (22 to 24 km.). The valley of Prinaris splits it into: the Great Hymettus of the Ancient, at the height of 1026 meters, and the second, Anidros (water-barren) Hymettus or Elaton, reaching 774 meters on its highest peak. It is also known for its caves and precipipices. The most common caves are "tou Liontariou" (Lion's Cave), the cave of Peania, of Archedimos, of Korakovouni, the great precipice of Asterio etc. 601 plant species have been found on Hymettus, among which are some rare ones, while more than 100 bird and animal species (amongst them foxes and rabbits) have been noted down. The mountain nowadays, is one of the few biotopes and places of natural amusement still left in Athens. At the same time, the existence of important archaeological sites makes the mountain an irreplaceable part of our natural and cultural heritance.
The history of the area of Kessariani is thus connected to the history of Hymettus. The magnificent western slope of Hymettus created propitious circumstances for the primitive man to settle. The archaeological excavations confirmed this, bringing to light blades and obsidian pieces, proper to the Neolithic age. The mountain's name looks to its long history. Probably comes from a series of words preserved in the greek vocabulary by the neolithic habitants of the hellenic ground. These habitants, "Kares", "Leleges", "Lykeoi", "Minnes", were named altogether Pre-Greeks or according to the Greek traditions, "Pelasgi". According to more recent research, these pre-hellenic races were not "Pelasgi", but "Kares" and "Leleges", coming from the area of Minor Asia. Reasonably enough, the place names coincide with similar from Minor Asia, pointing out a close relation of the first habitants in Greece to those in Minor Asia. According to the version reported by N. Nezis, the word Hymettus comes from the Pre-Hellenic "Umait" or "Hemyt", which meant hard, coarse, rocky place. Others derive its name from the alteration of the word "Thymet" (thymos/anger - thymari/thyme) Hymet-Hymettus.
During the historic times, while Athens is economically and culturally growing, the large area of Hymettus appears to be a place of worship for the ancient gods, as well as healing place, due to the therapeutic properties of Hymettus' springs. Pausanias, the traveller, reports there was a statue of the "Hymettuous Zeus" in Hymettus", as well as altars for "Omvrios" (pluvial) Zeus and "Proopsios" (end planned) Apollo. Finally, the altar of "Omvrios" Zeus, was used to propitiate the god to offer rainfalls, necessary for the agriculture. Hymettus had also been a religious centre for the gathering of the ancient demos (people/citizens). Venus' sanctum lied, according to information, at the area called "Kalopoula" nowadays. This sanctum is associated with the spring "Kilou Pira", which, according to tradition, facilitated pregnant women and caused progeniture to the barren. There are various aspects concerning its name, "Kalopoula", "Kalia", "Kilia", "Kilou Pira". Pausanias, the traveller certifies that the vegetation in Hymettus was appropriate for bees. Agriculture and stock raising were the alternative activities that took place. It should be noted that, the object of great exploitation, those years, was Hymettus' perse marble. In the 4th century B.C., the quarries of Hymettus were still active, while at the Roman times, a great demand had led to a great intensification of the marble production. In the 8th century B.C., significant lands at the foot of Hymettus are being granted, and thereafter tithed (that is taxed for one tenth) over the fruit of the earth, by the state. On the 6th century, Pissistratos, the tyrant of Athens, exonerates the colonists of Hymettus from tithe, particularly stock breeders, farmers and others who used the area. In the Roman times Hymettus kept its radiance, up to a point, as a spiritual, philosophical and religious centre. Byzantine world After the appearance and consolidation of Christianity the city of Athens was associated with idolatry. This, of course, diminished all intellectual and spiritual activities in the city. The area of Kessariani, thus, went through a period of stagnation and, thereafter, a period of changes. This long transitional stage in the history of Kessariani meant the end of the ancient world. At this point, the remarkable monastic societies were formed, on the foundations of the ruined idolatrous temples.
Frank - Turkish rule
The conquest of the Hellenic ground by the Franks and the Venetians, followed by the Ottomans defined a series of changes, delays and expulsions on the Hellenic ground. During this period naturally, the functions and the activities of Kessariani were diminished too. Hymettus' name, during the Turkish rule was different for every nationality. The Greeks named the mountain "Trelos" (crazy), the Turkish "Delly Dayh", that meant Crazy-mountain, and the Franks "Monte Matto" (Crazy-mountain), which was obviously an alteration of the original (Monte Ymeto). These three terms reveal the instability of the clouds at the top of the mountain. But according to another version its name derives from the alteration of the French phrase "tres long" (elongate)
Nowadays Hymettus regardless of the encroachments made from time to time, regardless of the growth of the residential district, despite the occasional fires that burned it, despite the property disputes, and despite the unreasonable appropriations of significant grounds made by private individuals, especially by the Philo-forestal Union of Athens (F.E.A.), still remains a living ecosystem.
This text is cited December 2004 from the Municipality of Kessariani URL below, which contains images
The German-Italian occupation
Kesariani's population (mostly refugees) took part massively at the national-liberating fight. In this small neighbourhood of Athens a lot of blood was shed, a lot of lives were wasted and heroic acts were written down. In Kessariani, Aris Velouchiotis, the legend of the National Resistance, organized the first meeting that launched the Resistance. With him was Manolis Tsafos from Kessariani, who was killed later with Aris. For about 49 times the German conquerors and the security orders will attempt to conquer the free land of Kessariani, but for an equal amount of times they will fail. The heroic fights of all the people of the colony will constantly prevent the entrance of the conquerors in their area. One of the top, but also the most tragic acts, was that of June 16th 1944, that took place near the Monastery of Kessariani; great forces of greek soldiers and Germans had rounded the area up to Hymettus. Ten brave men was the death toll on the altar of freedom. Apollo Davlakos, Prodromos Adramitoglou, Sotiris Venieris, Andreas Kristalakos, Michalis Menegakis, Nikos Dalianis, Giorgos Polemarchakis were killed in battle.
Stefanos Tsafos was arrested wounded and was carried to Goudi on a donkey, where they finished him off. Kiriakos Ferendinos and Germanos Chadjinopoulos were arrested at the cemetery. This small suburb has its history as a rebellious and martyr town and this is its heritage to those who dwell on its grounds today. Liberation comes with Nestor Zoedis as a mayor.
The highest and most tragic moment in the Shooting Gallery's history was the mass shooting of 200 patriots-communists on May 1st, in 1944. The vast majority were inmates of Akronafplia, given in to the army of occupation by the dictatorship of Metaxas, deprived of the chance to defend their country. From the camp at Chaidari the 200 patriots, led by Napoleon Soukadjidis, were transferred and shot at the Shooting Gallery, in retaliation for some dead German soldiers at Molai, in Lakonia. On the way to the Shooting Gallery, the fighters were tossing notes to their beloved ones, which were collected by the women of Kessariani. The condemned fighters were standing in front of the executioners, brave, in a dominant feeling of self sacrifice that embodied the highest ideal of man. The fighters died singing the national anthem and hailing for the E.A.M. (National Liberating Front).
Liberation-December 1944 and Civil war
At the conflict of December 1944 the vast majority of the people of Kessariani remain on the side of E.L.A.S.(left wing liberating party), fighting now the English and their allies. During these battles the suburb is deserted from women and children, the English and the "Riminites" bombed anything that moved in the city, with mortars and machine guns, indiscriminately. The brave men of the suburb make a heroic defence. After this uneven battle, the English and their native allies enter Kessariani and the "alliance" occupation begins in Kessariani. The new now conquerors occupy the gym of Near East and the Shooting Gallery, in which they practice shooting, thus offending the memory of the fighters of freedom who were shot there. This effort to undermine the democratic morale and tatter human decency, despite the tremendous terrorism, does not seem to have the results its instigators expected. The final effort brings along a lot of dead and wounded. Next comes a cavalry for the whole nation: the Makronissi island and others, terrorism, imprisonment, and persecution of the fighters. Kessariani gains place in the black list and is put "under surveillance". A series of Mayors appointed by the central authority are - showing no substantial interest - at the helm of the Municipality.
Kessariani from 1951 onwards
The suburb whose blood was shed in the national war for independence, the one that revealed the collaborationists, one that tried to thwart the schemes for enslavement, is now eclipsed or, better said, isolated. This free spirit and attitude will be paid for for several decades… the irregular order of the appointed and ceased mayors ends in 1951, when Leonidas Manolidis is adventurously elected mayor. In a tract distributed before the elections, the party "Kessariani - Laos - Manolidis" in April 5th 1951, notes that: "During these years several mayors that were appointed and not elected threshed and shattered the place. They did nothing for the sake of this land, left Kessariani barely alive, deserted like a dirty thorp. Its streets are miserable; there is no water, no neatness. No drainage and sewers. We are in danger of drowning whenever it rains, we suffocate from the dust of the avenue when the wind blows or a car drives by. Our children's schools are in a miserable state. Athleticism was neither supported, nor did it ever concern anyone seriously, and to its worth. As for medical treatment, especially for the poor families, it does not exist. And worst of all, Kessariani was turned into the dump of the other Municipalities". His being elected will start a new era for Kessariani, since fighting mayors, coming from the left-wing democratic movement, will always be at the helm of the Municipality.
This text is cited December 2004 from the Municipality of Kessariani URL below
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